Who: Babylon Circus
Where: The Corner Hotel
When: 11th January 2014
When a beaming crowd exits a venue without taking heed of the bulging beads of sweat dripping down their bodies and potential aching legs, more than one person would come to the conclusion that a great night was had by all.
Rewind the clock back 90 minutes or so and picture the Corner Hotel packed full of people from various backgrounds and ages. Some waited with bated breath, while others were looking a little unsure about what to expect from the evening’s headliners, Babylon Circus.
The French nine-piece arrived on stage in a way that oozed charisma, all adorned in outfits that you’d picture a travelling band of gypsies would be accustomed to. The dual vocalists, David Baruchel and Manuel Nectoux, strode up and down the stage with confidence. The two were surrounded by their fervent band and an array of instruments; drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, trombone, trumpet, and clarinet. Namely, the trombone, trumpet, and clarinet turned out to form one hell of a scintillating horn section.
The rough-and-ready looking crew kicked straight into ‘Never Stop’, the title track off their recently released fifth record. Babylon Circus’ sound is one that fuses reggae, punk, ska, gypsy jazz, and good ol’ honest rock n’roll quite effortlessly. And while 99% of the songs played during the set were performed in their native tongue, it never once took away from the uncontrollably buoyant vibe that the music portrayed to those in attendance.
The crowd had obviously brought their dancing shoes along. By the time the second number ‘De La Musique’ entered the fray, its ska punk and horn-driven sound had those up the front moving as one.
The ladies in the room then took to the stage to waltz with various band members during the polka sounding and accordion led ‘J Aurais Bien Voulu’. Baruchel hopped, skipped, and jumped with seemingly manic yet endless energy, while also taking the time out to address the audience in both English and French. The singer was already drenched in sweat by the time ‘Marions Nous’ was given an airing, a song that saw him prowling the stage.
His partner in crime Nectoux, however, took a slightly more reserved approach to performing. That said, he rarely lost the audience’s attention.
‘Nina’ saw the first full mosh pit of the evening take place. The fast paced horn section, catchy chorus, and guitar solo gave an unofficial ‘green light’ to those of the more rock-orientated mentality in attendance. The tempo didn’t drop for even a split second as the trombone led ‘Sailor’s Wife’, the ska fuelled ‘Not So Funny’, and calypso tinged ‘Jamaican’ all begged for the crowd to move with boundless energy in the confines of the sweltering Corner Hotel.
Babylon Circus are what a mixture of Mano Negra, The Pogues, and The Clash would have morphed into. All nine members continuously roamed around the stage and played their instruments as if their collective lives depended on it. By the time the final notes of ‘La Cigarette’ passed, the band exited to rapturous applause and screams for more. Within 30 seconds of departing, the group bounced back on stage. Before bidding the crowd adieu, they blasted through three more numbers with a brashness and energy level that continued to soar over the flailing bodies on the dance floor. Magnifique!
Setlist; Never Stop, De La Musique Et Du Bruit, J’aurais Bien Voulu, Demain Dehors, Marions-nous Au Soleil, La Caravane, Nina, Sailor’s Wife, Nuit De Printemps, Lost In The Jungle, Not So Funny, Des Fois, Jamaican, Fat East, La Cigarette
This review was written for Tonedeaf (An Australian music site)